The Eastern Beacon from eastern Carteret County recently published a letter from the superintendent announcing his resignation from his post at the end of the calendar year.
What he identifies as the biggest hurdles for public schools to be successful is not new to many public school advocates. It’s the fact that we hear it from a top official in a county system who honestly presents it in plain text.
Every lawmaker should read it.
Here is the text from The Eastern Beacon:
January 2020 marks my 39th year in education, all of it spent in Carteret County, a school system that is the top in the state. From the many years as the band director at Morehead City Middle School and West Carteret High School to the principal at Croatan, and most recently as the superintendent, I have nothing but the fondest of memories as I worked collaboratively with you and was so positively impacted by our students.
I often state that I can remember all of the students I taught because of the impression they had upon me. They taught me that every child matters and that there are no limits we should place on the importance of reaching every one of them. The ride has been awesome and you mean the world to me.
With that, it is time to put away the baton and seek a different journey. Like you, I have spent inordinate hours working for our children and like you, most of it went unnoticed and maybe even a little unappreciated. I think that is one of the things I most respect about our profession, we absolutely do it for the intrinsic reward of seeing our students grow.
December 31 will be the final curtain for my show and a new act on Broadway will make its way to the lights.
As I depart our incredible school system, I want to impress upon you a couple of thoughts. I have spent my adult life being overworked by the state, a point I know you can relate to! There is not another state agency that expects, no, demands that its employees work far beyond a 40-hour week.
We often hit the 40-hour mark mid-week and do not even think about slowing down. The same could be said for lunch, our state colleagues take their hour every day and we do not expect them to do any tasks during that time. We eat with the kids, hold IEP meetings, catch up with that running principal, and perform so many other tasks during our 15 or 20 minutes of sanity.
With all of that being so true, then why are our state counterparts seemingly paid better, earning more in raises, and protected with wage and hour laws? In my opinion, I think it comes down to us – to our own detriment, we are not a force that creates urgency with the state’s leadership, we are a compliant profession that sees the best in everyone. We truly love people.
My second point concerns the recent move to a partisan Board of Education. Prior to 1992, our Board of Education was a partisan board. Many felt the children of Carteret County suffered as a result of the politics. In 1992, the county voters were allowed a voice and voted overwhelmingly (83% to 17%) to elect a nonpartisan Board of Education.
The following years saw truly cohesive Boards working in concert with the educators of the county to bring the students of Carteret County to new heights. Carteret County Schools is, without a doubt, one of the premier school systems in the state. We should all be proud of this accomplishment.
However, as you are well aware, our Commissioners decided in 2017, without the knowledge or consent of the voters (not to mention the Board of Education), to revert to a partisan Board of Education. This past year has seen a rapid return to the political machinations of pre-1992.
With the current climate, I feel I am no longer in a position to be an effective leader for the students and educators of Carteret County.
Despite being as enthusiastic as ever about teaching and learning, the relentless headwinds are counterproductive and are poised to stall our pursuits. While in one sense I am saddened to leave our great school system, the 39 years have been so gratifying.
As I logout one last time, I ask one thing of you. Please carefully vet each candidate for state leadership, County Commissioner, and Board of Education, making sure that your vote is for the candidate who truly has in his or her heart the best interests of the teaching profession and the children of Carteret County. Our teachers and staff deserve respect for the tireless work so skillfully performed every day and our students deserve the very best education possible.
Thank you so much for the opportunity to work with you. It has been an amazing journey and I am enriched for having taken the trip. Please call upon me if I can be of service and know that while I may not be in the office, I will be making my thoughts known for the betterment of our schools.
With love and admiration.